The Good People

September 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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One hot summer, an unnaturally hot summer for my province actually, my friend Heather invited a few of her girlfriends out to her family’s cabin a few hours away from the city.

Going to the cabin in the summer is one of the most favored things for people who live on this rock in the middle of the Atlantic. Newfoundland is Canada’s most eastern province, and the most easterly point in all of North America. Heathers family owned a cabin on a little island about 5 hours away from the capital of St. John’s. A ferry ran twice a day across the bay to bring you over and take you back to the small community of less than 150 people. She brought three of us along that summer, her girlfriend Sarah, Jackie, and me.

The island where her cabin is located is small, and the community smaller. There aren’t a whole lot of people around and I was told it would be hard to get lost in the woods because of the size of the place, so it was perfect for the exploring Heather was excited to do. She knew there were tons of old houses out in the woods, but at that point hadn’t been able to go check them out. We were planning on staying there for a week. We left on a Sunday and on the following Saturday Heathers parents were coming to stay at the cabin for another week. We had a lot of time to relax, swim, sunbathe, smoke too much weed and eat way too much food.

On Wednesday we were taking a walk through the “downtown” of the community (downtown is a serious exaggeration, it was just where most of the houses are and where the ferry docks) when a family friend waved us over to his lawn to ask us how things were going. Heather knew him well and they were chatting about family, how the summer was going, if her father had got a moose yet, you know, the basic stuff, when Heather mentioned to him that she was interested in exploring the woods a bit. Her friend furrowed his brow and warned her that even though the island was small, the woods were surprisingly easy to get lost in.
“You watch it now, Heather. You knows these woods are teeming with the good people,” he said, giving the rest of us a little side wink. Heather laughed and patted his shoulder.
“Dad warned me all about them coming out here when I was a kid, I know all about the fairies and I also know not a damn one of us have had any trouble with them, so I think we’ll be ok,” she replied, “but I’ll put a piece of bread in my pocket just in case.”

Now, fairies. They are a weird Newfoundland thing brought over from our English and Irish ancestors. At the time I was in university majoring in folklore so (I thought) I knew all about them. I was beyond excited to hear them mentioned; it’s a dying belief here and isn’t really taken seriously anymore. It’s hard to find anyone who even knows about them these days, let alone anyone who would actually warn us about them, and call them by their old name, “the good people.” I know what you’re thinking… who the hell would be afraid of fairies of all things? But these aren’t the cute tinkerbell fairies with wings and magic dust and cute shit. The ones around here are a different kind of fairy all together. This is something that I would learn the hard way.

After Heather said her goodbyes, Jackie asked her what the piece of bread was all about. “They say a piece of bread in your pocket keeps you safe from them,” she replied with a grin.
Jackie gave me the side eye, “are you serious?” she asked, “safe from what?”
“You’ve really never heard of the fairies before?” I asked her, not being able to stop my smart ass from being superior in my wealth of folklore knowledge. “They lead you off into the woods and shit and make you lost, steal your babies and generally fuck you up. Little gnarly old guys who dance around rocks and think it’s a fun time to kill your animals and create mischief where ever they can. ”
Jackie rolled her eyes at me. “Ok miss paranormal expert, go get your degree in ghosts already,” she gave me a playful shove.

We reached the top of a hill that overlooked the “downtown” area and the beach. Heather pointed in the opposite direction, “and that’s where we’re going after lunch, ladies. Right into the woods!”
“Will our phones work out there? You know your way around out there, right babe?” Sarah asked her, frowning at her iphone, “I only have 1 bar right now.”
“Nah it probably won’t but we’ll be fine, we won’t go so far in we might get lost. I’ll just climb a fuckin tree and look for a house, not like this place is big,” she replied. Heather was the most adventurous and bravest of us all, I could see the excitement buzzing in her. We wouldn’t be able to say no to this idea, all of us knew that. So we put on our hiking gear and off we went.

The first hour or so was uneventful. We weren’t just wandering aimlessly, there ended up being a labyrinth of old trails and ATV tracks we could follow. I loved hiking so I was soaking up the sounds and smells of the woods, when Heather yelled out to us from further up the path. “You guys! Oh man, come here! Come look!”
We rounded the turn and came right up to a house. It was like the trail led right to it. It was old, obviously abandoned, just seemingly sitting right in the middle of the woods with a small, over grown front lawn that was lined with a falling down white picket fence. It was a salt box style house that is extremely common in Newfoundland, at one point in time basically all the houses looked like this one. The paint was peeling, one of the windows on the top floor was boarded up, and the old wooden front door was hanging off its hinges.
“Look at this beauty! Holy fuck we hit the motherload with this one, there’s still stuff inside!” Heather could barely contain her excitement as she peered in through the windows.

We entered through the open front door and began looking around. The house wasn’t big. It had a small sitting room, a dining room and kitchen on the bottom floor. Old, dusty furniture and random knick knacks were still scattered throughout, and wallpaper peeled from the walls. Jackie and I were looking at some faded and worn out pictures on the wall while Sarah was standing awkwardly in the middle of the dining room, biting her lip. I could tell she was feeling uncomfortable.
“Relax babe, no one is here and it’s only 2 o’clock, there’s tons of sunlight left. Look at all this stuff, this is wild!” Heather exclaimed as she inspected a very large old record player against the wall.
“I dunno I just feel… weird in this place,” Sarah replied as her eyes wandered around the room uncomfortably.
“That’s cause its old as fuck and probably about to fall at any moment,” Jackie teased. Heather shot her a disapproving look but I laughed. Sarah was the most anxious of us all, I wasn’t much better but I was feeling surprisingly ok, I was too interested and preoccupied in all the cool old stuff to worry about anything just yet. At once Heather decided she wanted to check out the top floor.
“Well I’m not going up there. Why is it so dark?” Sarah asked as she wrapped her arms around herself and glared up the stairs.
“That must be from the boarded up window,” I guessed, but I was feeling pretty uncomfortable going up there myself. Fuck that, I can admit to being a wimp just fine. Old houses are creepy, and it was really dark up there. I wasn’t interested in seeing any ghosts or falling through the floor. Heather however, was all about it, and the rest of us reluctantly agreed to follow her up.

“I don’t understand why it’s so dark up here, I thought only one window was boarded up,” I said as arrived at the top of the stairs. There was a room to our left but the door was jammed, so we went down the short hallway that led to the front of the house. The boarded up window was at the end of the hallway, but I noticed there was no window at all in a child’s room we had entered. Heather and Jackie were looking excitedly through a box of toys, talking about the weird old shit, while I glanced around the room. It was small, only big enough to have a small toddler sized bed, a toy box, and a bookshelf.
“This is too creepy you guys, I wanna leave,” Sarah said, her brows furrowed.
“Nooo babe c’mon this is so cool!” Heather pleaded, “What are you so afraid of? There’s no one here but us.” Sarah shifted uncomfortably, admitting defeat. Jackie stopped what she was doing and looked around slowly, “Did you guys hear that?”
My heart jumped in my chest. “What?” I asked, “Don’t say shit like that in here please, stop freaking us out.”
“No seriously,” she said and stood up. “I thought for sure I heard someone call my name.” I bit my lip, wondering if I should believe her or assume she was trying to scare us. “I don’t know…”
Then I heard it, very very softly, someone call my name. It was so soft and so far away sounding though, that I wasn’t sure I had heard it at all. I blinked and looked at the others. They were standing still as could be, and I could see fear in Sarahs eyes. “It was my name that time,” she almost whispered.
“But-” I started to reply, when Heather cut me off.
“Nah you guys, you’re just freaking yourselves out. Maybe we should leave before you start convincing yourselves of other shit,” Heather said, obviously annoyed. But I could tell the tone in the room had changed dramatically. We agreed to leave.

When we got outside I felt almost instantly better. “I think the air in there was fucking with us, the place is moldy and smelly, old places will do tha-“ Jackie stopped abruptly, “what the fuck? Where is the trail?”
I looked ahead. The trail we came in from was no longer there. It was just thick trees and bushes. I gaped, my eyes wide. How is that possible? We were just out here and the trail was right in front of us.
Heather laughed nervously. “See you guys are all freaked out now and you know that just makes things worse. The trail is there, just hold on.” She went over to where the trail was supposed to be and tried to push through the bushes. “It’s here, we’re just… it’s just… “ She trailed off as she frantically pushed through tree limbs and thick brush. My heart sank. I was confused. The trail was RIGHT THERE. It brought us right to the house. But as we looked forward from the picket fence, it was like the house was smack dab in the middle of the woods with nothing leading to it at all.
Heather came out of the brush, “There’s… it’s just woods… ok no one panic yet, let’s look over here.”
We followed her around the house and to the backyard. “Look! See, there’s a trail! Ha!” Heather exclaimed as she pointed to a gate at the end of the backyard. Sure enough, there was a trail there. We breathed a sigh of relief. I still didn’t know what the hell happened out front, but I decided I shouldn’t think about it too much. I didn’t want to scare myself more than I already had. Before long, I could feel the tension ease a bit and we were joking and laughing just as we had before.

I took out my iphone, wondering what the time was, but to my dismay it was dead. “Aw fuck, my stupid phone died, what time is it?” I asked, stuffing my useless phone back into my pocket.
Like a cliché horror movie, Jackie and Heathers phones where somehow dead as well. We chalked it up bad reception and wonky battery percentages. But I could Sarah had tensed up.
“I didn’t even bring mine… are you guys serious? All your phones are dead?”
I looked up at the sky, “It’s okay Sarah, the sun is still up fairly high, it can’t be past 3 o’clock so we have lots of time to get back.” They all agreed, but I could tell everyone was feeling uneasy. Being out here with no way to call anyone in an emergency, well we’re the generation that just isn’t used to that kind of digital isolation. Not having a phone was making us all very uncomfortable.

Discussions turned to other things. What we were going to eat for supper that night, how we should have rolled a few joints for the hike, what we would do tomorrow, when Jackie exclaimed “oh look, I think I see a fence up there, another abandoned house maybe?” We hurried up the path to check it out.
Falling down white picket fence, peeling white paint on a saltbox house with a window boarded up on the top floor, a front door falling the hinges. “Oh you have to be fucking kidding me,” I said, confused yet again. It was the same damn house. We had walked in a circle for what must have been an hour.
“But, but… how? We walked in a circle? We couldn’t have, I…” Sarah was stammering but Heather just wrapped an arm around her and kissed her cheek softly.
“This sucks but it happens sometimes,” she said, “these trails are a maze, we must have somehow got turned around.”
“But we walked straight, we didn’t go down any other trails, Heather how-“ Sarah and Heather continued to bicker, but I was too busy staring at the house to pay attention to what they were saying. I squinted and shielded my eyes from the lowering sun. The windows were reflective, but I thought for sure I had seen movement in the upper window. My heart was beating faster than I was comfortable with and I convinced myself it was a trick of my eyes, but I noticed Jackie staring at the same window. I walked over to her.
“What are you looking at?” I asked her, worried what the reply was going to be.
“I’m losing it dude, I thought I saw something in the window up there. Something white, like a kid maybe, I don’t know I don’t see anything anymore, forget it,” Jackie turned around and walked back towards Heather and Sarah. I followed her.
“I don’t like this Heather,” I said, starting to feel really uneasy.
“Don’t sweat it. Look, the trail was here the whole time. We must have just not noticed it when we left the first time. The trail in the backyard leads back to the house, which makes sense, so this time we just go down the trail we came from and we’ll be back to the cabin smoking a big bat in no time,” she smiled at me. She was still pretty calm, still being silly old Heather. I felt better. She was right. The path behind the house would most likely lead back to the property if we weren’t paying attention. The woods were playing tricks on us.

The mood was getting more somber though, Heather tried to pick up our spirits but at that point we wanted nothing more than to just get back to Heathers cabin. Heather and Sarah took the lead, paying far more attention to where we were going this time and making sure we weren’t getting turned around again. The sun was getting lower in the sky, and the further we went the more my stomach knotted.
Suddenly, Heather stopped in her tracks and put a finger in the air to signal us to do the same. We stopped. “What?” Sarah asked, frowning.
“I thought I heard someone call my name,” she said, straining to listen. We did the same.
“I don’t hear-“I started to say, but then, I heard it. Someone shout out my name. Not too far off like before, but much closer. My heart leapt into my throat.
“Who is that? Who out here even knows my name?” Jackie said looking around, “Hello!” she called out.
The rest of us looked confused. “But… I heard my name,” Sarah said, “No one called your name Jackie, I heard someone call out Sarah.”
This was not good. I couldn’t hide the fear on my face, and neither could the others. No one said anything; we understood each of us had heard our own name being called. It felt like we stood there for a long time, just waiting. Then I heard it again, like it was someone in the distance but still close by, call my name again. I couldn’t tell what direction it was coming from and it sounded… wrong. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman, child or adult. It made my hair stand up and my chest flutter. I saw the color drain from mt friends faces.
“Let’s go,” Heather said, and started to walk briskly down the path again. We tried to catch up to her but Heather was taller and faster than the rest of us, and soon she was out of sight.
“Wait up!” Sarah called out, but a few seconds later we saw that she was stopped on the path again just ahead of us. “It… that can’t be,” she stammered.
I didn’t see it at first. But looking up higher, at the tree line, I could see that damn house again. At this point I didn’t think my heart could beat any faster, but it did. How could this be happening? How did we go in a circle again when we were being so careful this time?
“What the fuck Heather, what the fuck?” Jackie was yelling, “How the hell did we walk in a circle again?”
Heather was shaking her head. I’ve never seen her look scared before. Heather was always the level headed one of all us, boasting about going on random adventures and never losing her cool even when she ran into trouble. I felt at that moment we were fucked. We were dead lost and we would be out here for god only knows how long with no food and not enough water. At that moment the fairies came back into my mind and I believed in that moment that they were very fucking real, and they were screwing with us.

I could see Sarah was on the verge of tears, and Heather wrapped her arm around her again and told her it was ok, and that they would find their way home, and not to worry. Jackie and I just stood awkwardly in the path, not knowing what to say or what to do. We didn’t want to go near the house again. So we just stood there while Heather calmed Sarah down until it was starting to get dark.
“We need to move,” Jackie finally said. I agreed. We weren’t going to get out of here just standing around.
“Okay, this time we follow the sun. It’s setting, we know if we follow it we’ll be going in one direction and we can’t get turned around again,” Heather said. Off we went again. This time, none of us said a word. We were scared, we were hungry, and we were just getting pissed off.

It was getting dangerously close to being dark by the time Sarah spotted the house again. This time she just burst into tears, unable to control herself any longer. I felt the tears stinging my eyes and a hard lump in my throat myself. I wrinkled my nose as I tried to fight it back. Jackie swore and began yelling at Heather.
“What the fuck Heather? How is this possible? You said we wouldn’t get lost, you said it was impossible. You said you would climb a fucking tree if you had, to so climb a tree Heather! Climb a tree and find a way out, you got us into this. Holy shit this is so fucked up.” Heather just took Jackie’s strong words and said nothing while she bit her lip.
“Okay,” she replied when Jackie was done, and started to look for a high and stable tree to find. Almost all the trees in Newfoundland forests are conifers; pine, spruce, and fir trees. Not exactly that easy to climb. But at that point Heather was desperate, and she struggled to climb through the dense branches that cracked easily under her weight. Somehow she managed to get near the top and she looked around.
“There!” she shouted out pointing in the opposite direction of the house, “There’s a light over that way, I can see it!” She slid down excitedly. We started to jog in the direction, fighting our way through thick trees and ignoring the cuts the brush was giving us. I didn’t care anymore. I just needed to get away from that house and out of these woods.

We stumbled into a clearing and I heard Sarah moan loudly. I looked up. We were at the back of the house this time.
“That is fucking impossible, impossible! It was just behind us!” Heather had her hands to her head in disbelief. I just gaped. I couldn’t think straight. My breathing started to become rapid and uneven, my eyes began to cloud over. “How? How? How?” Repeated in my head. How was this happening? At this point we were all crying, none of us able to fight it back any longer. Even Heather had tears streaming down her face as she tried to calm Sarah down who was downright sobbing. We sat down in the grass behind the backyard fence, feeling defeated. It was more or less completely dark now, we had been in the woods for more than 8 hours by this time and I was tired. My stomach was in knots, my chest felt tight and painful. None of us knew what to do.

Suddenly, Sarah gasped and pointed in front of her.
“What is, wha- wha- wha-“ she stammered. My heart flew into my throat. I turned around.
At the edge of the clearing, near the side of the house maybe 20 feet from us, I could barely make out a shape. It was all white, or maybe it was grey, in the shape and size of a small child. It looked like a human and it was completely naked, but it had no characteristics. Its face was blank and between its legs was smooth like a doll. Nothing, it was like a completely blank person. It was standing casually with its arm out leaning against a tree when it turned its head to look at us. I heard the others gasp behind me, and then we ran. We got up and tore ass out of there.
But it felt like we ran for only a few seconds when I bumped into Heather in front of me. She had stopped dead in her tracks, her mouth hanging open and her eyes wide. “What-“ I started to say, until I realized the house was right in front of us again. My mind buzzed, I felt like I was going to fall over.

We weren’t alone this time. Making a circle around the house, were a large group of these blank people. They were… well, I hesitate to say dancing, because it wasn’t really dancing. It was more like twitching and shaking. Their limbs looked like they were filled with liquid as their arms wiggled around their sides. Their legs stomped back and forth as they moved their white blank bodies, heads shaking and their whole body twitching in a way that made my blood run cold. They looked human but these were not human movements. Human limbs don’t bend or move that way, and they can’t jerk around that quickly either. None of us said anything, none of us screamed. We just stood there, transfixed on these creatures completely unable to process what we were seeing. My whole body felt frozen, my legs were jelly and a scream was trying to escape from my throat but it just couldn’t make it out.

Then, the creatures all stopped. They stopped and stood perfectly still, and in complete unison they turned and looked directly at us. That was when we ran. I ran as fast and as hard as I ever have. We ran with tears streaming down our faces until I couldn’t feel my legs anymore and my lungs were on fire. I didn’t know it was possible that I could even run like that. My mind was blank. The only thing I could focus on was Jackie who was directly in front of me, I couldn’t hear anything, I couldn’t feel anything. I just ran.

It felt like we ran for hours when we reached a clearing and I saw a street light. I burst into sobbing tears, I couldn’t control it any longer. My whole body was shaking and I fell to the ground. Jackie held me, we all cried together sat in the grass on the side of the road with a streetlight glaring down at us. We were out.

After we had composed ourselves, we began slowly making our way back to Heathers cabin. We were exhausted, everything hurt. We walked back without saying a word to each other. As we reached the driveway, we noticed the lights were on in the cabin and there was another car in the driveway. It was Heathers parents. They were casually sitting on the back deck, listening to music and drinking beers. Her mom jumped up as soon as we came into sight.
“Where were you? My lord Heather what mess were you in now?” She gasped, looking at all us cut and bruised with puffy eyes.
“What are you guys doing here?” was all she managed to say in reply.
“You knew we were coming today. Where in the world were you?”
“But… mom it’s only Wednesday.”
“It’s Saturday Heather, were you guys out on a bender in the woods? Are you ok? You’re all a mess!”

None of us said a word. We couldn’t. If we talked about it then that meant it was all real. I don’t know what happened to those 3 lost days we had in those woods. What I do know, is that I was completely wrong about fairies. They are nothing like the old folktales say. They are not little old guys with pointy hats that prance merrily around rocks, or cute little girls with wings. They are so much worse than that.

It has been many years and I still haven’t come to terms with what happened. Writing this has been a struggle. But maybe now, after writing it all down and admitting that it happened, maybe I’ll be able to hike through the woods again. Maybe I’ll stop hearing my name being called out in the distance. Maybe I’ll stop seeing those blank faces staring into my bedroom window at night. Maybe.

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On The Short Walk

September 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My house doesn’t have a garage. Instead, it has an undercover car port. The front door is at the opposite end of my house to the car port. Once I park my car it’s a short walk from the car port to the front door. On the short walk, because my house sits on a slight hill, I have a view of the property across the street. It’s been vacant for a while now. Last night, though, on the short walk, I saw a light on inside.

This morning, on the short walk from my front door to my car, I quickly took stock of the house. It appeared to be vacant. There were no cars parked in the car port or on the street outside. The tall, neglected grass swayed in the gentle morning wind and the brown, paint-chipped picket fence had a precarious lean, as if it would topple if the gentle gust graduated to anything greater. As for the house, a single-storey brick with sun-faded orange roof tiles, it studied me with its four eyes, the blinds drawn on each, as I studied it. It was like one of those paintings where the eyes are on you wherever you are in the room. Its four eyes followed me the whole way on the short walk but there didn’t appear to be any life behind them.

That night I parked my car and began the short walk to the door with my mind still at work. It wasn’t until I was halfway through my journey that I realized the light flickering behind one of the windows. This time I realized the flicker, as if the source was fire rather than a lightbulb. As I moved closer to the front door I tried to recall if the light I’d seen last night had flickered the same way. I couldn’t recall. I hadn’t paid close enough attention. As I entered my house, I heard the muffled sound of a hammer at work across the street. I figured that I did have new neighbors.

The next morning the house looked exactly as it had the previous day. As I walked the short walk, looking over at the property, I saw one of the window blinds move. It looked like someone had bumped into it. They slowly rocked for a few seconds before becoming still once more. By this time I’d reached my car and I drove to work.

When I got home that night my mind hadn’t been left at work. I’d begun thinking about the house across the street on the drive home, wondering if the flickering light would be on behind one of the windows. I saw, on the short walk, that the light was on. However, the light flickered behind every window. It was brighter behind the two centre windows and grew dimmer in the outer windows, as if the house had just one source of light. As I put my key in the front door I once again heard the muffled sound of construction across the road. The sound of my footsteps on the short walk had masked the soft sounds of labor. I didn’t look over my shoulder. I’m not the overly-nosey-neighbor type. I went inside and locked the door.

The next morning I realized that the blinds were gone. Their disappearance didn’t provide a passerby with a peek inside because the windows had been painted a dark maroon. On the short walk I also noticed a mound of dirt beside the house. A shovel stuck out of the ground next to it. I got in my car and drove to work.

That night I saw, on the short walk, a sign of life and not just a hint. A red truck sat on the street outside the house with its cabin raised. A figure hidden by the darkness was working on the engine. The streetlight on that side of the street was out but the one outside of my house was working fine. The figure working on the truck was wearing protective goggles. He looked up at me and the fluorescent beam of the streetlight hit them and bounced off in my direction. It was like a nocturnal animal studying me. I raised my hand in a polite wave and the figure just continued to watch me. It then went back to working on the engine without even a nod of acknowledgement. I quickly went inside, glad to be out of sight.

The next morning the truck was gone and so was the mound of dirt. The dilapidated fence had been replaced with a sturdy chain-link deterrence, double the height of the old one. The house watched me with its four empty eye sockets all the way to my car.

When I got home from work the truck was back and the streetlight still hadn’t been fixed. As I neared my front door I heard the sound of a basketball bouncing on the hard surface of the road. I looked over my shoulder and saw a group of streetwalkers, their age hidden by the night. I didn’t hang around outside to see if they were coming or going because my neighborhood wasn’t the safest. As I retreated inside I heard one of them shake a spray can.

The next morning the truck was parked in the same spot as the night before. Across the back of the trailer, sprayed in blue paint, was: ‘PIG FU’. The next letter was half completed but it was pretty easy to tell that the artist had intended it to be a C. But the artist had been stopped halfway and they’d left their spray can behind. It lay on its side against the truck’s back wheel. My imagination offered me an explanation involving the streetwalkers and the figure that I’d seen working on the truck. I turned my mind to work and got in my car.

When I returned home that night, as I pulled into my driveway, I saw that the truck’s cabin was raised again. On the short walk I tried to see if the figure was working on the engine. Movement at the back of the truck caught my eye and the figure appeared. I looked away but could still see the streetlight reflected on his goggles. Then, as I moved closer to my front door, I noticed the figure moving across the street to my house. I fastened my walk when I saw the long wrench in his hand shimmer when it caught the light. I kept the approaching figure in the corner of my eye but made sure not to look directly at them. I fumbled with my keys at the door, praying not to hear the tap of shoes walking up the path behind me. I got inside and closed the door behind me. I waited for a knock that didn’t come. My curiosity bested my fear and I peeked through the eyehole. There was no sign of anyone on the street.

The next morning I was a little reluctant to leave the safety of my house and make the short walk to my car. But it was day time and that convinced me that I wouldn’t see anything unsettling across the street. With this assuring thought I stepped out of the house and began the short walk to the car. As much as I didn’t want to look, my curiosity was like a fishhook and the fisherman was standing across the street slowly reeling in the line, making my head turn slowly in the house’s direction. As if the figure had been waiting for me to look over, the front door opened as soon as my eyes fell on it and they emerged from within. I knew it was the figure I’d seen working on the truck because of the goggles. The sun reflected off the lenses and, like the streetlight, didn’t allow me to make eye contact. There was no way to tell what gender they were because the top of their head was covered by a black engineer’s cap, the goggles obscured their eyes and their lower-face was covered by the large collar of the thick black overcoat that hid the rest of their body, the bottom disappearing into the long grass. They raised a hand and directed my attention to the open front door, offering for me to come inside. I tapped my watch. signaling that I was running late and quickly walked to my car. They dropped their hands and just stood there in the long grass. Like the house, they watched me all the way to the car.

I thought about the morning’s short walk all day at work. When it was time to go home, I contemplated not going home. I thought about it for quite some time in the car park of my office building before deciding to go home. I had nowhere else to go. Besides, home was safe. It was that short walk from the car to the door where I was vulnerable. If anything happened involving the engineer – I’d gotten to calling them the engineer because of the hat – I’d get inside and call the police. It sounded like a good plan.

I pulled into the driveway that night and looked over my shoulder at the house across the street, making sure the engineer didn’t have a head start on me. If I’d seen him out on the street, I would have turned the car back on and gotten out of there. I took a deep breath, got my house key ready in my hand so as not to waste a second at the door finding it, and started the short walk. I kept the corner of my eye peeled for any movement. When I reached my front door and nothing out of the ordinary had happened, I felt, strangely, let down. I’d been so sure that something was going to happen. I’d felt it in my gut. The hairs on the back of my neck had stood up for no reason. I looked over at the house across the street and it appeared as it had on the first morning after I’d seen a light on in one of the windows. The property seemed to be devoid of life. Even the red truck was gone. I inserted the key into my front door and unlocked it. As I pushed it open, I looked over my shoulder to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, I turned back as I stepped inside and collided with the engineer.

The engineer stood just inside the doorway and my nose touched one of the lenses of his goggles. When the realization set in, that I had an intruder inside my house, fright threw me back and I tripped over the doorsill. I landed on the pathway outside and looked up at the engineer as he emerged from my house. In the glow cast by my front light, I saw what the goggles were protecting: nothing. There was just darkness behind the lenses. I crawled backwards for a few meters as the thing that wasn’t human moved towards me. I picked myself up off the ground and turned for my car.

A glow caught the attention of my peripheral vision and my curiosity turned my head towards it as I ran. The door to the house across the street was wide open and the flicker of a flame danced just inside. I should have continued running to my car but I stopped. I changed my course and began walking towards the open door. I wanted to get in my car and drive away but the want to see inside the house was stronger. The engineer stepped up beside me as we crossed the road and I felt a supportive hand on my back. It didn’t say anything; I’m not too sure if it could. It guided me past the chain-link fence, through the long grass and to the door. I discovered that the flickering light was a large chandelier holding numerous wax candles.

I could feel the engineer pushing me on the back slightly but not hard enough to force me inside. He wanted me to step inside but when I saw the pit I didn’t want to. The house was just a shell hiding the pit beyond its walls. But I don’t think that ‘pit’ is the right word because a pit has a visible bottom. I couldn’t see the bottom but I could see hundreds of shimmering eyes catching the flame of the chandelier. When I think back on it now, I think they were goggles, not eyes.

Suddenly the want to drive away was stronger than my curiosity. But the engineer had his hand on my back and the force behind it was getting stronger. Before it could push me inside I pushed back on the doorframe. The force behind both our efforts grew until it was an aggressive battle. Then I had an idea that saved my life that night from the pit. I purposely fell straight to the ground, catching the engineer off balance and he toppled through the doorway and into the pit. The want to get in my car and never return was greater than the want to look over into the pit to see if the engineer was gone. So, I ran to my car and drove away.

The next morning, in the early hours, a sinkhole swallowed the entire street. My coworkers were shocked when I showed up to work in the clothes I’d been wearing the day before. I’d had nowhere else to go. I explained that a night out drinking had saved my life. It wasn’t a lie. I had spent the rest of the night drinking. They were interested by my story for only minutes because special coverage of the sinkhole was playing out on the morning news and had all their interests grabbed.

I spent the morning in my cubicle browsing for apartments to rent. I couldn’t bring myself to work. I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone the truth because they wouldn’t believe me.

On the short walk from my cubicle to he water cooler I pass the lunch room. Through the window I can see the TV. At the moment it’s on and showing an aerial shot of the sinkhole. The large black eye watches me as I watch it, wondering. Did the engineer create the hole or did the hole create the engineer? I’m curious to know. I’ll continue to peek on the updates every time I go to get a drink. Though, if I see something I don’t like, I’ll run.

Until then I’ll just watch.

Credit To – satawks

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Skyrim’s Secret

August 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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If there are any Skyrim players on here, beware of a place called Husfortap Manor. It exists just outside of the playable area in the southwestern most end of the map, directly south of Markarth. You’l see it on the edge of a mountain as what appears to be a clearing with a rectangular white structure at one end. I found it one day while playing around with the console commands on the game. See, I was bored and decided to explore beyond the playable boundary of the game, as developers tend to leave some interesting Easter Eggs or unfinished concepts in the “Great Beyond”. So I used a command allowing myself to clip through the invisible wall that prevents you from leaving the map and explored around a bit.

For the first hour or so, I didn’t really see much besides empty forests and mountain ranges. I did come across the model for what looked like an early concept for the Falmer, and one of the developers apparently carved his initials into the side of a mountain, but that was really about it. Finally, while approaching the southwest mountain range, I thought I saw what looked like a structure on the other side. My curiosity sparked, I clambered up the mountain with surprising ease and landed in a large grassy yard in front of an enormous white mansion. In front of the mansion was a simple wooden sign that read “Husfortap Manor”.

The mansion itself was surprisingly low-res for a game this recent and lacked a lot of graphical detail aside from two large rectangular windows on either side of the door, and four featureless columns lining the porch. The lawn was also very rudimentary, lacking any sort of decoration or graphical texture and existing instead as little more than a wide sea of green. This must have been a planned location that was abandoned early on in development.

I entered the mansion, which turned out to be nothing more than a bare frame on the inside. No furniture, lamps, or trophy heads were present to decorate the wood walls; the only decoration this place had was a small podium on the very back wall with a featureless black book resting on it. I approached the book and pressed the prompt to read it (which oddly didn’t give the title, it just said “Read”), though disappointingly the page was completely blank except for a number 1 in the upper left corner. Placing the book down, I turned to leave and was unexpectedly greeted by an NPC I hadn’t seen on the way in.

It was a young woman, apparently a Nord, with jet-black hair and wearing a long blue gown. She sort of looked like Lydia but thinner and with longer hair. The woman stood in the center of the mansion, just staring at me and turning her head to follow me as I walked around her. As I came to about even with her, she said bluntly: “Wealth is temporary, what is here today will be gone tomorrow.” I wasn’t sure exactly what this meant, maybe some unrealized quest involving retrieving this woman’s stolen gold?

I determined there was no more to see here and left the mansion. This was certainly an interesting find: an entire location and character forgotten in the code of the game, and I had just uncovered them! And speaking of the character, I intended at some point to find that woman’s code so I could bring her to the main game and make her marryable: she was kinda hot!

Unfortunately, this high point would be overwritten by a horrible next day. On the way home from work, someone came up behind me, knocked me over, grabbed the wallet out of my pocket and ran off. I didn’t see their face, only that they were wearing jeans and a black hoodie. That wasn’t really a tremendous help to the police, who said they’d try to find the suspect but without an actual physical description, it’d be difficult. This definitely sucked: even though I can call and cancel my credit card, I had about eighty bucks in that wallet, and I’m damn near broke as it is! For some reason, I couldn’t help but recall what that woman in Skyrim said: “Wealth is temporary, what is here today will be gone tomorrow.” I knew it sounded silly, but I couldn’t shake that phrase from my mind. Maybe there was a connection?

I ultimately dismissed this thought as ridiculous. After all, whoever heard of a “magic fortune-telling video game”? However, I did need some cheering up after this. I fired up Skyrim and decided to return to Husfortap Manor, as last time I neglected to find out the mysterious woman’s name, which would be helpful if I’m going to hack her code and marry her! After journeying back to that end of the map (and killing a very persistent dragon along the way), I climbed back over the mountain and reached the mansion. Something was different about it though, the bright white that had cloaked the mansion yesterday had now faded into an almost “dirty white”, and the windows were coated in a thin layer of dust, making the view inside slightly translucent.

I approached anyway and stepped inside; to my surprise, the woman had seemingly undergone a change as well. She was a few inches taller, her hair was also a lighter shade than before, and she had more noticeable frown lines. It was almost as if she had aged to some degree. Not drastically, but she definitely wasn’t the hot young twenty-something I ran into yesterday. The woman’s deep blue gown also looked a bit faded, as though it too had aged. As I approached, I noticed that the prompt to talk to her never appeared, making it impossible to know the woman’s name. When I looked to face her, she offered me a faint smile coupled with a slight sigh, almost like she was faking being happy to see me.

“A man works hard for his coin,” she said suddenly. “But when he ceases to be useful, he is cast away to starve.”

Great, another cryptic message from an unmarryable NPC of unknown name in a bare house with nothing but a useless book. Disappointed, I left Husfortap Manor for what I intended to be the last time: it was a neat find, but there wasn’t anything of real value there.

The next day, I was hit with another whammy. As I came into work at the corner gas station, my boss pulled me into his office and told me that the place had gone over budget and he had to let a few of us go, and sadly a certain someone was among these few. I tried to explain my financial state, as well as the little incident yesterday with my wallet, but my boss merely apologized and said that there was nothing he could do, that he “simply didn’t have enough money to pay me.” Whatever, that was a crap job anyway.

As I walked home, a thought came to me, besides my hatred for my boss, that is. This was twice that the woman in blue had predicted my fate. The other day, she said something about the “loss of wealth” right before I get mugged, then just now she mentions workers being cast away, and here I am unemployed the next day. I know I just dismissed this thought as silly, but what if the mysterious woman was predicting my future?

That night, I decided to show the Easter Egg to one of my friends, who’d also been trying to explore the outer fringes of Skyrim with no luck. I had explained to him all the weird things that had happened including being mugged, losing my job, and the cryptic messages that predicted both.

“Dude, that’s so weird.” My friend said when I told him what happened, though I wasn’t sure if he fully believed me.

“I know,” I replied. “I’m kind of afraid to go back, but you know, maybe I can use this as a heads-up from now on.”

I started up the game and returned to the mansion, which was now in even worse shape than yesterday. It looked like the white paint was actually starting to peel off, revealing a stony gray undercoat. Tiny cracks were also beginning to form here and there, if nothing else giving the mansion some texture and personality, albeit an unpleasant one. When I entered, I saw that the woman had aged again as well. This time, her hair was beginning to gray and she had noticeable wrinkles on her face; she looked like she was about in her fifties this time around. Her dress was also beginning to tatter and lose its color.

“I thought you said she was a young woman?” my friend said.

“She was last time, she ages every time you visit the house.” I replied. My friend was confused by this, and with good reason seeing as how NPCs in this game don’t age. As I approached, the woman exhaled and her face almost looked sad.

“Your home is your sanctuary, and you do all you can to preserve it.” she spoke. “But what happens when others aren’t as responsible?” Her tone sounded very melancholy.

“Did you hear that?” I asked my friend in an alarmed tone.

“I didn’t hear her say anything, dude.” he said. “When she opened her mouth, all I heard was static.”

I packed up my computer in a hurry, ran out the door as fast as I could and tore down the street towards my apartment. Maybe I could get home in time to stop whatever was going to happen. Just because the game predicted it doesn’t mean it’s happened yet, right? There still might be time, I thought to myself. There might still be time.

I didn’t need to get close to see the flames. What used to be my apartment building was not a glowing orange inferno; firemen were already at the scene attempting to quell the fire, but it wouldn’t be enough to salvage my burning home. Speechless, I could do nothing but look on in despair at my room, crumbling and falling to pieces before my eyes.

“I’m gonna have to ask you to stand back, sir!” one of the firemen ordered me.

“What the hell happened!?” I cried.

“One of the residents left their stove on and gas spread into the air. We think that they went to light a cigarette and the entire room went up in flames.” The fireman explained. “Did you live here?”

I nodded, and the fireman apologized and offered his condolences. I didn’t know what to think. On the one hand, I was glad I wasn’t inside the apartment, thanks to my discovery of this Easter Egg. However I had just lost everything I owned in that fire, all except for my laptop, and this copy of Skyrim.

Luckily, my friend let me stay at his place for a while, so at least I had a roof over my head. For the next week or so, I focused on trying to find another job so I could rent a new apartment room, yet I was having no luck whatsoever. I told my girlfriend, Susan, the whole situation, from the mugging, to me getting fired, to my apartment burning down. However I did leave out the part about the Skyrim fortuneteller as she is neither a gamer nor superstitious. Susan was overcome with sympathy towards my situation and offered to talk to her boss to see if I could get a job where she works. She really is one-of-a-kind, I thought to myself.

Of course, I still put out what must have been eight job applications that day, just to be safe. Afterwards, I was mentally exhausted and ready to get lost in my video game once again. I decided not to visit Husfortap this time though; I just needed a normal session of escapist fantasy to relax my mind. All was going well for a bit: I took on a few random quests, raided a bandit camp, and brought down a few bears. Then, mysteriously, a courier approached me in the forest.

He did his usual bit about having a letter “for my hands only” and then handed me a note called “SkyrimNote367.esp”. This was made especially bizarre by the fact that I was in the wilderness when this happened, and typically couriers only hand you messages in cities. Regardless, I decided to read the odd note. I pulled up my inventory, opened the note, and saw that it only had one sentence: “Do NOT come back.”

This had to have come from the woman in blue, and I understood why: each visit causes her to age, and we both knew that, eventually, she would be aged to death. Be that as it may, this woman had a gift that could mean the difference between life and death for me. If her predictions could help me prevent possible disaster, I needed to know them regardless of the consequences to her. The needs of a flesh-and-blood human being are above those of an artificial intelligence, sentient or not. I was definitely going back to the manor.

I decided to immediately head for Husfortap after all. Reaching the edge of the map, I entered the console command and scaled the out-of-bounds mountain until I reached the mansion, which was now almost completely dilapidated. One of the support columns had fallen over, littering the front porch with rubble. The windows had all now been busted out, revealing an interior that was dusty and riddled with cracks. The exterior of the house was also checkered with spider webs, their inhabitants eyeing me cautiously.

The woman inside had, as usual, aged along with the house, but a bit more drastically this time: her hair had turned completely white, her face was heavily wrinkled, and she was beginning to hunch over. She looked like she was in her late sixties or early seventies. Her blue gown had now faded into more of a bluish gray, and was littered with rips and tears.

As soon as she saw me, the woman outstretched her hands in protest and shook her head, her face conveying a look of both fear and desperation. However, she did not back away or run, as though she was fixed to that one spot in the middle of the room. I approached the woman in defiance of her protests, causing her to lower her arms and hang her head in defeat.

“Love is a powerful feeling.” The woman choked out, her eyes glassy, as though she was about to cry. “But it is so fragile in this chaotic world, which shows no mercy to even the closest of lovers.”

My heart dropped. The person I loved more than anyone in the world was Susan. We’d been going out for three years and were practically perfect for each other. If anything had happened to her, it would destroy me. I slammed my laptop shut, grabbed the keys to my friend’s car (who luckily was asleep), and floored it to Susan’s house. During my drive, I could only pray that I would get to her in time. I had waited several days to return to Husfortap, what if I already found out too late? Arriving at my girlfriend’s house, I could see through the window that her kitchen light was on. Good, I thought, at least she was home. I approached the door and pounded on it several times. No answer.

“Susan, are you there?” I called, my voice shaky from sheer terror. After a few seconds, I knocked again, my strikes louder and more frantic this time.

“Susan, please open the door!” I called again, pounding furiously, to which there was no response. I was mortified now.

Unable to waste another second, I rammed the door as hard as I could with my shoulder. Once, and then a second time. Finally, I charged full force at the door causing it to give way. I hurried to the kitchen only to find that my worst fear had come true: I was too late. The love of my life lay motionless on the kitchen floor, her mouth dripping foam and her head lying in a puddle of blood. I knew Susan was an epileptic; she clearly had an episode and hit her head on the kitchen table.

I literally felt my soul shatter into a million pieces. Not able to remove my gaze from the dead body of my girlfriend, I staggered forward and fell to my knees. If I had been here just a few minutes earlier, she may still be alive. I lifted Susan’s head out of the puddle of blood and held her to my chest, sobbing uncontrollably. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than for her to reach out and hug me back. In a way, I died that night as well.

Nearly a week had passed since my girlfriend’s death, yet that horrible night still burned fresh in my mind. Why wasn’t I quick enough? Why hadn’t I gone to receive the woman’s prediction earlier? I just couldn’t bear this guilt any longer; no matter which way you look at it, Susan’s death was my fault.

Or was it? That fortuneteller had to have known for some time that this would happen, yet she waste all that valuable time with far more trivial predictions. I could have live without the eighty bucks stolen from me, or that crap job of mine. Hell, even my apartment could have been replaced! But Susan was my love, my soulmate. I had plans to marry her one day. Yet this woman, she chose to tell me the least important fortunes first, knowing what would eventually happen. Had she revealed Susan’s fate from the get-go, or even informe me in her note (that she hacked the game to send me, no less), I could have saved my girlfriend. This was all her fault!

Hastily booting up my laptop, I could see nothing but red. I was gonna kill her, I was gonna bust down that mansion door and break her old body with the strongest weapon my character had. When the game loaded, I was at the very far end of the map as far away from Husfortap as I could be. Plant me wherever you want on the map bitch, it won’t save you!

I barreled through the land faster than I thought my character could, mowing down any unlucky AI enemy that crossed my path; nothing was going to get in my way. My mind was fixated, I could think of nothing more than avenging my girlfriend’s death. The forests and holds of Skyrim flew past my vision in a blur of color; I literally stopped for nothing. At last I reached the mansion, which had completely collapsed into a pile of unrecognizable rubble now, and equipped my warhammer. I was just itching to bash the old woman’s brains in.

I ducked under the fallen beams and clambered over the piles of collapsed marble to find the woman in her usual position in the center of where the building would be. This time, she was older than I’d ever seen a human being. She was hunched and trembling, looking like she was hardly able to stand up. Her arms looked more like skin stretched over bones, her hair was nothing more than thin wisps of white, and her gown existed simply as ragged strips draped over her crippled form. To be honest, the woman looked barely alive at all. In this moment, my rage and hatred gave way to almost pity; her advanced age was clearly putting her in a great deal of pain. I put away my hammer and just stood there, at a loss for what to do.

“You came back.” The old woman breathed in what was little more than a loud whisper. “Why did you come back? Why couldn’t you just stay away?” I could tell she was sad, but simply too exhausted to convey it. At this time, a moment of clarity came over me. I fully understood for the first time that this woman was not a simple mindless AI acting out programming, but rather a living and thinking being who existed within the game. I didn’t know where she came from or who put her there, but there she was nevertheless.

“What are you talking about?” I caught myself asking out loud. The woman, almost as if she had heard me, raised a trembling arm to point to the book at the back end of the mansion. I was confused: the last time I looked at that book, it was blank except for a single number, what would be different now?

Still, I found myself overcome by curiosity and opened the odd book once more. To my surprise, the contents of the book had completely changed. Rather than one simple number, there were now the numbers 1 through 5 running down the page, each with a different symbol by it. The first symbol was that of Skyrim‘s Thieves’ Guild, the second was a silhouette of a beggar, the third of a burning house, the fourth of a broken heart, and the fifth entry…blank.

Wait, if this place knew my future, why was the final entry blank? Then a horrifying realization hit me: what if the woman in blue wasn’t predicting my future after all? What if my visits here were actually causing all those things to happen? They did seem to happen very shortly after speaking to the woman in blue. Yes, it all made sense now: the woman wasn’t at fault, she was simply the messenger of whatever was responsible for the atrocities plaguing me, yet I had to hear her message for them to take effect. That’s why she never wanted me to return here! She knew that my visits would eventually lead to Susan’s death and tried to stop me, but I just wouldn’t listen. Now, my girlfriend was dead and my life was in shambles because of my arrogance and stupidity. Shaken, I closed the book and turned to leave, only to see a horrifying sight.

The woman was dead, and her body was completely decayed. She honestly looked like a draugr with the now-gray rags thrown over it. Clutched in her skeletal hand was a small note, which I dared not read, for I knew what it would say. This manor had taken everything from me, and now there was only one thing left it could take. Terrified and still furious, I switched the computer off, ripped out the game disc, and tossed it in the trash, ensuring the manor’s final curse went undelivered.

Nearly a month has passed since I threw the game away. I am completely broke now and still without a job. My friend’s sense of charity is gone and he kicked me out, and I have no family who can take me in, so now I am completely alone. The only possessions I have now are the clothes on my back and my laptop, which I intend to sell after I type this so that I can finally get some fresh food for once.

I still have no explanation for what happened to me, or where Husfortap Manor came from in the first place. All I know is that there are forces in this world we can’t even begin to understand and, when tampered with, they will destroy us. I had to learn this lesson the hard way and I hope that none of you make the same mistakes I did. If you happen across that mansion in your game, do NOT enter it and do NOT speak to the woman in blue!

As for me, though I will always revile that place for what it did to me, every night when I go to sleep, I toy with the idea of going to the landfill and finding that copy of Skyrim, so that I can return to Husfortap Manor and receive its last message. After everything Husfortap has taken from me, maybe now it could finally give me something: peace.

Credit To – Sean Blevins

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The 121st Night

August 23, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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This is a video pasta – if you are unable to view the embedded video, please click here: The 121st Night

Credit To – Sarah Edge

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South Wing

August 20, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I was desperately broke. I suppose that was why I decided to suck up my pride and apply for a job at the Hindlewood Mansion. They were always in need of housekeepers at that big old place. In high school, a few of my friends had worked there, but never lasted more than a week before quitting. They all said it was because of the way the old man treated them, but they way they acted when we rolled past that house in our beat-up cars told me otherwise. Something was just…weird about that place.

My appointment for a housekeeping interview was at 9 o’clock at night; a strange time, but I had heard that old man Hindlewood hated company, and we were only to clean house at night when he was sleeping. I did not really mind, my nights were normally pretty uneventful. The small town I lived in hardly had any night-life, and the only gatherings the younger people had were drinking in the corn fields or hanging out at the local gas station. I preferred to stay home and read.

The interview was conducted by the lead housekeeper, a woman who looked a little too old to still be working. She was small and frail, very sweet, but a little strange. The questions she asked seemed a little irrelevant to the job. She mostly wanted to know if I was afraid of the dark, since the old man could not sleep with the slightest light. I did not really understand how, in such a huge place, one light could bother him – even at the other end of the house. We were permitted candles and a flashlight, not exactly ideal for dusting the small nooks and crannies of the old place. Despite the irrationality of it all, I obliged to her request for lack of light; I was never afraid of the dark.

Mrs. Levingston also requested that I never visited the Southern-most wing of the house, where the old man slept, because she deals with that area herself. Hindlewood did not like strangers, and would likely fire me on the spot if he so much as saw evidence that anyone was in his wing.

I suppose I answered all of the odd questions correctly, because I was hired on the spot. I was to work that night, and began immediately after getting my uniform from the maid’s quarters. She walked me to the room with the cleaning equipment, near the kitchen, told me to work the Northern wing for the night (the same wing which the harbored the Maid’s quarters), reminded me again not to enter the South wing, and said goodbye for the night. She was to return at dawn where my session would end, and hers would begin.

I changed and began performing the duties explained to me; mostly dusting an array of antiques. I was about half-way through my shift when I hear a high-pitched whistling. Not like a person whistling, more like the wind spiraling through a small window. I figured a window must have been left open somewhere, so I followed the noise, with my flashlight, checking all of the windows as I passed them. It was oddly still out, and my heart began to beat a bit harder as I noted how eerily quiet it was outside. It did not seem windy at all, so what could this sound be?

Of course, the noise was coming from the Southern wing. I stood at the threshold to the Southern hallway wondering what to do. I did not want to go down there, but could feel a dreadful draft coming from that direction, and was afraid the poor old man could catch pneumonia from the open window. I did not want to be the cause of the old guy’s death, even though he had a reputation for being quite the grouch. I’m sure he would understand, and if not, the worst that could happen is that I get fired, right?

I took my first step into the hall, half-expecting the old man to come charging out garnishing his cane like a crazed dementia-induced madman, but nothing happened.

I slowly walked down the hallway, listening. I could still hear the whistling, but nothing else. I came to Hindlewood’s doorway and put my ear to the door: nothing but the whistling which was clearly coming from the room. The door was nearly closed, yet was open just a crack, and I could see some light coming in from the crevice. It was not artificial light, but a dull blue light, like from the moon.

I slowly opened the door, which creaked loudly as the room slowly came into view, with my flashlight pointed at the floor of the dark room in front of me. The room was large and mostly empty with a very large curtained bed at the center. I could see a lump in the bed with the flashlight, which I assumed was the old man. He looked to be sleeping, but the hairs on the back of my neck told me I was being watched.

As I inched towards the bed, I remembered my purpose for entering: the window. I looked around at the barren walls and out of the corner of my eyes I noticed what was above me. The light poured in from a large skylight above me, yet cast in the light was a shadow; it seemed as if a figure of person was highlighted on the floor from above, yet its shape was unnaturally large and twisted. What would have been the head was shaped more like a V, and where its shoulders would be, there were large pointed protrusions.

I panicked. As I went to turn and look at whatever was standing in the light of the moon, I dropped my flashlight. As I tried to catch it from my tumbling hand, it rolled across the room and under the bed. I watched it fall out of reach, and spun around to check the skylight. There was nothing there, and the shadow on the floor was gone.

With my heart pounding in my chest I got on my knees to seek out the flashlight under the bed. I could see it shining out from the darkness. It had rolled underneath and I crawled in to retrieve it when I noticed that the whistling was gone.

I grabbed the flashlight and held it to my chest trying to calm myself for a second. I told myself I was probably seeing things; the darkness was beginning to get to me and I was seeing false shadows. I needed to check on the old man, who was likely sleeping soundly directly above me.

I took a deep breath and began to scoot my way towards the edge of the bed when the whistling started again. I could immediately feel the cool air whirling around the room. I stopped where I was, still underneath the bed but close to the edge. I peered out, hiding the light of the flashlight in my hands, in the direction of the ceiling with the window. Something was standing there, covered in shadow. I could only see the muddy red gloss of it’s eyes as it stared at whatever was above me. It was then that feet dropped inches away from my face, old veiny and wrinkled feet, and so I tucked my head back into the darkness. The feet lifted into the air as if they were floating, and the whistling was then accompanied by larges gusts of wind, like the flapping of large wings.

Then all was quiet.

I stayed in that spot for what must have been two hours with my heart pounding in my chest. Was I crazy, or had something taken the old man out of his bed while he slept? My mind raced as I lay there, frozen in fear. It was not until I could see the first indications of sunlight that I was able to summon up enough courage to get out from under the bed and look around the room. The bed was empty, like no one had ever slept in it. The room was tidy, the window closed.

I walked to the maid’s quarters, feeling numb and bewildered, and waited for Mrs. Levingston. I did not say a word to her. I took especially long to change, as I knew she would be making her way to the South wing. She came back only a few moments later, and as the maids room was next to the kitchen, I saw her making breakfast. When she saw me, surprised I was still there she says “Oh, glad you are here honey. Mr. Hindlewood worked up quite an appetite last night and I could use your help, would you like to stay for breakfast?” I was not quite sure what was on the menu, so I said “No thank you” and left.

I am still not quite sure what I saw that night. At first I thought Hindlewood was taken by some evil creature, but I saw him walking the gardens the next day by Ms. Levingston. He looked normal, perhaps even more spry than usual. Now, I’ve been working at the mansion for over 10 years,and somehow, the old guy is still alive and looks like he has not aged a single day. Whatever has been going on, I don’t really mind because it gives me a job and good pay. All I know is, I stay out of the South wing, and I’ve learned to ignore whatever it is I hear in the night.

Credit To – B. Paige

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Why Sarah Never Sleeps

August 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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There were too many doors in the upstairs hall. Sarah told her parents, but they couldn’t see it. They told her not to worry. They told her there was nothing there. But there was an extra door at the end of the upstairs hall. An extra yellow door, and it didn’t belong.

It was the color of disease, jaundiced and infected, with spidery black veins across its face. One perfect silver knob gleamed in its center above a shadowy keyhole, and it didn’t look right. The doorknob shone with a mirror’s finish, and caught the light from any angle, begging for Sarah to look its way. Sarah did her best to ignore it, but the door knew her name, and it whispered it when she drew near.

Saraaaahh . . . ” the door would rasp with a voice like dried leaves as tiny claws scraped against the other side. Tears would well in Sarah’s eyes as she’d hurry past, her arms laden with everything she’d need to get ready for the day.

Saraaaahh . . . ” it would call again before she’d shuffled out of range and closed the bathroom door, cutting off its paper-thin wails. When she’d creep from the bathroom to head downstairs, the door’s voice would follow her with a furious flurry of scraping claws and tormented howls. They lingered and gnawed in the back of her mind as she’d rush through breakfast so she could leave the house a few minutes sooner.

School became a blessing, an excuse to be someone somewhere else. At school she could forget the door. At school she could pretend her house was like everyone else’s, with the right number of doors and no eerie whispers. But at the end of the day it was still waiting for her at the end of the upstairs hall, with its mirror-ball knob and yellow face. She hated coming home and knowing it was there, but even more than that, she hated going to sleep, because in her dreams, she opened the door.

Every night, she stood before it, fighting the urge to reach out. Dread knotted her belly in anticipation of pain when her hand rose anyway to grasp the silver knob. Some nights it burned her like the driest ice. Other nights it seared like a red hot coal. Very occasionally, it did neither, instead turning and turning without ever opening the door, and she couldn’t stop turning it until she woke up.

When the door did open, it revealed a swirling vortex of shadow and sound, with a thousand voices crying in the darkness. The voices curled around her, crawling through her hair like spiders. She thrashed and swatted at their skittering whispers, but the words still tingled across her skin.

She never should have listened.

He sees . . . ” they said. “He hears . . . ” they moaned. “He hungers . . . ” they wept, and burrowed in her mind like worms. “The Hollow Man, the Hollow Man,” they echoed in her mind and screamed to her from the gaping vortex. “The Hollow Man . . . he hunts!

Sarah shot up with a scream that night, gasping and sweating, but alone in her bed. The clock’s crimson face said midnight had passed, but not by much. Darkness enveloped her room, except where a vestigial nightlight illumined the corner by her desk; it wasn’t much, but she felt better when she saw it.

She pulled the bedsheets over her head and pushed away the echoing voices. I’m fine, she swore, hugging her knees and rocking. It’s just a dream. They’re always dreams. The dreams will go away like they always do.

She started humming a song her mother used to sing when Sarah was smaller, small enough to need the nightlight, and the panic faded little by little with every note.

Just a dream. She repeated. Just a dream. Just a –

“Sarah?” Someone whispered from the hall.

Sarah froze.

“Sarah? Are you Sarah?” It was the voice of a girl not much younger than Sarah, and not at all like the voice she usually heard from the door at the end of the hall.

“Who . . . who are you?” Sarah whispered back from beneath the sheets.

“My name is Lizzie. Are you Sarah?”

Sarah didn’t move; she was terrified of leaving the safety of her cocoon. As the moments ticked past, however, an anxious curiosity emboldened her enough to peek out from the covers. What if it was another girl, she thought. She sounded just as scared as Sarah felt.

Sarah crawled from her bed clutching the sweat-damp night shirt she’d worn to sleep, and waited. When nothing happened, she stood up and tip-toed toward her bedroom door; toward the waiting yellow door, with the mirror-ball knob, on the wall at the end of the upstairs hall. When she stood before it, her stomach lurched, and for a moment she couldn’t tell if she was going to vomit, or faint.

“Please,” the door said in the young girl’s voice when Sarah got close. “Please, are you Sarah?”

Sarah opened her mouth to answer, but her voice was a tiny squeak of nothing. She pressed her palms to her cheeks and smeared away the tears before trying again.

“Yes,” she finally managed. “. . . I’m Sarah.”

“Please, let me in!” The door’s silvery knob shook violently, rattling as if locked and jostled by someone on the other side. Sarah stumbled back with a gasp, staring at the shuddering, alien knob.

“Let me in, Sarah, please! I can’t stay in here! Please help me! Let me in!”

Sarah dropped to her knees when her legs gave out, and she screamed when she looked at the door.

Level with the shadowy keyhole, below the rattling knob, she stared directly into a very human eye. Tears shimmered in the other eye, as they shimmered in Sarah’s. It darted around, wide and white with fear, as if searching through the hall. And then, without warning, the keyhole became shadow, and the silver knob stilled, and the girl on the other side of the door began to cry.

“Please, Sarah,” she pleaded. “He’s almost here.”

“The Hollow Man?” Sarah whispered as a chill slithered up her spine. Lizzie sobbed quietly. Sarah scooted closer to the door, her fear growing colder when the girl from the other side didn’t answer. “Lizzie?”

Silence fell, as if it had always been there. She couldn’t hear Lizzie crying anymore, and even the house was too quiet behind her.

Sarah put her ear near the door, and held her breath.

She waited. Minutes passed — but it couldn’t have been minutes.

Nothing moved. Nothing whispered. Nothing cried. Nothing stirred. She couldn’t hear anything but her own racing heart. Was she gone?

“Lizzie?” She tried again, afraid the Hollow Man had taken her.

He’s here . . . ” Lizzie whispered at last, almost in her ear, as though Lizzie’s lips pressed tight against the keyhole. “Please, let me in . . . .

Sarah’s head ached. The world was a little fuzzy around the edges, and it was harder to focus than before. She had to stand up. She didn’t dare touch the sickly door, but her legs felt too wobbly and weak to support her. She reached for the knob with a trembling hand.

Please, Sarah . . . .” Lizzie’s voice was getting smaller. “Please . . . .

Grasping the mirror-ball knob, she pulled herself up from the floor. It moved noiselessly beneath her hand, gliding without resistance, and opened the yellow door.

A lonely expanse of normal wall inched into view, and she felt sick. She worried at her thumb in confusion, and extended a trembling hand to touch the wall behind the door. It was solid. As solid and as normal as the wall at the end of the upstairs hall should be, but her stomach churned.

She gently closed the door, which issued a soft click as the latch sprang into place, and waited. She hardly dared to move or breathe as she listened to the night, waiting for the door to speak again.

Hours passed in oppressive silence — even though it couldn’t have been hours–, and the door had nothing to say. Sarah grew sleepy — too sleepy to keep standing. Too sleepy to remember why she was standing so still at the end of the upstairs hall. It was time to go to bed.

It’s just a dream, she remembered, turning away and rubbing at her eyes. They’re always dreams.

Shuffling to her bed was like swimming through Jell-O, and most of the way there she couldn’t keep her eyes open. Luckily, she knew the way.

The dreams will go away like they always do.

The crimson clock was broken when she rolled herself back in bed, its face declaring 12:16 AM to a room that only vaguely felt familiar, but she couldn’t bring herself to care when her eyes and body felt so heavy.

Sarah . . . , Lizzie whispered. But it couldn’t be a whisper.

Sarah, Lizzie whispered. Sarah, don’t wake up.

Sarah groaned a little.

Don’t wake up, Lizzie said, her voice echoing in Sarah’s mind.

Sarah frowned, and rolled on her back. She didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay asleep. Lizzie didn’t need to tell her not to wake, because not being awake was the whole point of being asleep.

For a long time, all was silence. Sarah’s mind drifted, and she felt herself grow lighter, as if getting ready to float up through the blackness that surrounded her. She could feel the cool sheets beneath her then, and for a moment she thought she heard the papery-thin rustle of leaves in her room.

He’s here . . . , Lizzie whispered at last. Please, don’t wake up . . . .

Who’s here? Sarah wondered as she steadily rose.

His hollow face, an eerie mask. With hollow voice at doors will ask. To be invited in to bask. Above his favored midnight task.

A strange tingling worked its way up Sarah’s body as Lizzie recited the haunting rhyme in a disconcerting monotone. Clarity inched its way toward her slowly, melting away the fog of sleep. Hadn’t she been dreaming? Was she still dreaming?

Something was wrong.

He’s waiting inches from your face. To be the first thing your eyes grace. But keep them shut, or else embrace. A hollow shell to take your place.

Cold dread seized Sarah’s heart with each new stanza, and she trembled with the weight of her mistake. For a moment, she swore she could feel the air stir above her, stale and strangely warm against her cheeks. Leaves rustled above her bed.

The yellow door, you always keep. He follows you to where you sleep. Into your room he then will creep. Your life and dreams for him to reap.

Lizzie’s voice became little more than a breath within Sarah’s mind, and the air cooled around her when a pressure lifted from her chest.

The leaves were in the hall.

The Hollow Man, above your bed. With hollow eyes, deep slumber fed. His hollow dreams may fill your head. But never peek, or you’ll be dead.

Everything was wrong.

Distantly, Sarah registered the sound of her parents screaming in their room, and felt tears sliding down her cheeks. No longer dream tears, she could feel the wet warmth as each one fell.

“. . . Mommy,” Sarah whispered, the sound paper-thin. “Daddy,” she rasped with a voice like dried leaves.

Lizzie? She thought, but Lizzie did not respond.

Silence fell over the house and Sarah knew nothing would ever be right again.

From the hall outside her bedroom door, Sarah heard the soft click as a latch sprang into place, and waited.

Silence filled the house again. The leaves were gone.

Sunlight peeked through the curtains, and the crimson clock said it was 7:45 AM before she felt it was safe enough to open her eyes and leave her room. The yellow door, with its mirror-ball knob, stared at her from the wall at the end of the upstairs hall, and the house was still too quiet. It was a different quiet than before, though, a different quiet than from her dream.

It was the quiet of a tomb.

Except, of course, for the occasional tapping, as if from tiny claws, from the other side of the yellow door.

Credit To – Death_by_Proxy

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